Being a manager isn’t easy. Often, employers are removed from employees — it’s the nature of the relationship. Despite the distance often built into the system, employers are responsible for teaching and growing their people.
While this is true and it’s always good practice for leaders to teach those working under them, there are things management can learn from their employees, as well.
1. Generate new ideas for the organization.
Oftentimes, employees will have new, original ideas for the organization. It’s important for leaders to cultivate an open atmosphere that invites discussion and sharing of ideas. As a leader, it’s easy to feel responsible for generating all the ideas for a business. However, employees can bring a fresh perspective and be a gold mine of ideas.
Millennials especially can be a great resource for new ideas. Because they’re younger, they’re more up to date with trends and what’s new and current.
For example, millennials can be invaluable resources for advertising and marketing efforts. Plugged-in millennials will know what’s trending, the up-and-coming social-media sites, and can help brainstorm ideas to connect the company narrative with a younger audience. Because younger employees haven’t been entrenched in “the way things are” for long, they’ll bring something new to the table.
2. Improve the hiring and onboarding process.
The hiring and onboarding process is an employee’s first interaction with your organization, and although the employer is involved in the process, chances are they haven’t gone through the process themselves in quite a while.
Consistently evaluating and tweaking these processes is important to ensure they are being conducted in a way that is both efficient for the organization and beneficial to your new hire. Employees who have just gone through the hiring/onboarding process are the most apt to give a clear picture of what’s going on, and employers can use them to learn how to improve their hiring and onboarding processes.
Solicit feedback from employees about the hiring and onboarding process, and make this feedback process continuous. Don’t just ask the most recent hire — ask someone the company hired six months or six years ago. Involve your human resources team and compare and contrast recruiting successes, what the process is getting wrong, and how it has evolved in order to understand how to reach top talent in the future.
3. Be a better leader.
It can be hard for leaders to evaluate themselves and know where to improve. Getting feedback from employees can help employers to be more effective managers to their people.
To help employees feel comfortable, consider using anonymous surveys or performance-review software to give feedback. Ask direct questions to get the most constructive results.
4. Create a sense of community.
As leaders, it’s easy to be removed from the day-to-day lives and work of your people. Employees don’t always feel comfortable around their boss, and as a result, there are distinct lines between employer and employee.
However, employees who are at the same level working together on projects or simply around each other daily often become friends and build relationships.
Leaders can look at these relationships, learn from them and use them to help build a sense of community in the workplace and foster office culture. Does the team like to volunteer together, get after-work drinks, or take part in a book club?
The way employees interact can provide insight into the interpersonal perks, from volunteer days off to lunchtime parties, they might enjoy. The office should be a place of open communication and friendly atmosphere, and leaders can draw inspiration from the relationships coworkers create with each other.
5. Learn to trust.
Few employees work best with a boss lingering over their shoulders. Yet for those in charge, the repercussions of shoddy work and low productivity can be huge. Good leaders strike a balance between giving employees room to breath and cracking the whip.
Great employees can teach their bosses to let go and trust in their ability to get things done. This can be especially hard for entrepreneurs used to tackling all aspects of a project. Yet letting go and trusting the team to get things accomplished can redirect focus on more big picture items.
By Andre Lavoie
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